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Old 27-07-2011, 19:46   #16
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

Rather than an expensive heater, go to Northern Freight, and look up ice hut heaters. For $120 I bought a propane heater that works from a 20# tank. Has an oxygen sensor to protect you, but if I were living long term in a cold area, I'd install a CO2 detector as well.
Unit installed in about ten minutes. Put a fan above the heater, works like a charm.
There will be issues with condensation, etc. as noted. Lots of good advice here. I lived in Annapolis for a winter, wasn't too bad and that's fairly close to you.
IF you use electric heaters, get the ones with an automatic shut off switch in case they tip over. A lot of fires caused that way. Also, use very heavy cords, with lots of amperage capability.
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Old 27-07-2011, 19:52   #17
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

The marina I'm looking at features "Protected Winter Wet Storage" which I have no clue of what this is.
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Old 27-07-2011, 20:10   #18
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

In the 'good' old days we used to use a cast iron fuel oil stove in the galley that gave off a dry heat that cleared out condensation, heated the coffee 24/7 and kept the ice off the wheelhouse windows. Never shut her down from October through March. The engine kept the aft deck warm enough that ice didn't build up as long as it was cleared of snow. The area we were working was from the Queen Charlotte Islands south with the occasional trip to Alaska towing oil barges.
The term Protected Winter Wet Storage probably refers to being able to leave your boat in the water through the winter with the water remaining ice free with bubblers or other means. Capt Phil
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Old 27-07-2011, 20:23   #19
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

Oh, now that I think of it, would it be a good idea to instead of using a fridge inside where it's hot, put your food in some sort of container outside in the winter?
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Old 27-07-2011, 20:25   #20
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

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Originally Posted by Capt. lulz View Post
Simple noob question: What are the issues and considerations for living aboard in the winter?
Three things: Condensation, condensation, and condensation. Along with an adequate heat system, a decent dehumidifier is crucial. Have fun! I lasted 2 winters in the PNW on the boat before moving south.
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Old 27-07-2011, 20:37   #21
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

I would never use nor recommend a heater that isn't vented so it exhausts outside (except of course an electric heater). Better yet are the space heaters that draw in outside air to the combustion chamber and exhaust out. Just to much chance of carbon monoxide poisoning, IMO.
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Old 27-07-2011, 21:09   #22
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

CaptLulz. I have lived on my wee little sailboat here in New York for the past two years, year-round. All the advice give above is good advice. Condensation really is a major concern if you don't want to be miserable. If you have access to electricity then that may be your best bet for the winter. It worked well for me. I was in a slip the first winter and plugged in. Second winter on the hard and plugged in. Did try other methods, but they were non vented combustibles, and as has been noted they are not very safe or efficient. Had an alcohol heater but that seemed to produce more moisture as a bi-product of it's combustion. I bought a portable propane heater and that didn't work well either since with both these heaters I had to leave the companion-way hatch cracked to ventilate and that let in more cold. I was always a little nervous about trying to catch some sleep with one of these heaters going due to the possibility of fire or oxygen depletion/co poisoning. Not worth it. Didn't do it for long though. Plugged into a little electric heater and that kept me from freezing to death. Still not that comfortable since the boat wasn't insulated. Unless you want to live like an Eskimo (like I did), I highly recommend insulating. I did by some closed cell foam and attached it to some of the interior hull and I closed off the v-berth and put some insulation between me and the aft end of the boat, but it wasn't a really good insulation job. I had a very good sleeping bag though.

Not many people want to "rough it" like that. I don't blame them. It's not always fun. Philly can get brutally cold in the winter, just like New York, and assuming you have fiberglass boat, then just imagine a thin layer of plastic between you and the elements when it's below freezing out there. That plastic (o.k., glass-reinforced plastic) doesn't provide a whole hell of a lot of protection. If you can afford it you should definitely follow the advice of some of the folks who've posted their suggestions here. I was a little short on dough, so I couldn't really afford to put in the type of system I would have liked to. But I was determined to live on my boat.

My suggestion would be to get a Dickenson-type heater that is vented. Another possibility is a catalytic heater, which uses propane but has no flame. These are supposed to be pretty safe. Insulate before Winter comes, because once it starts getting cold out you're definitely going to have condensation dripping from the overhead anytime you try to heat the inside. That's no way to live. Once you have moisture on the insides of the hull, forget about attaching insulation.

I don't know what type of boat you have, whether it's big or small, fiberglass or wood or steel, but there are solutions. If you had a decent sized boat you could even have a woodstove! Now wouldn't that be cozy!

Check this out:

www.marinestove.com/sardineinfo.htm
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Old 27-07-2011, 21:18   #23
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

By the way, I highly recommend closed-cell foam as insulation. It does not absorb water, it can be had in flexible form so that it easily conforms to the curves of the hull, and it has excellent insulation properties. I've read a lot of different articles on insulating boats, and some swear by spray-on foam too. Just make sure whatever you use it doesn't absorb water. Also, most of the articles I have read suggest insulating only above the waterline. Of course if you're on the hard, then you're bottoms gonna be cold, but as long as you're in the water, this method will keep you nice and cozy.

Also, if your marina/club allows you to do so, you might want to consider building a temporary structure and then wrap your boat in plastic like this:



Make sure you don't forget the door! And this will give you a greenhouse effect in the winter, which will definitely keep you warm.
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Old 27-07-2011, 21:35   #24
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

stratosailor brings up a good point on heaters that are not ventilated. They produce water vapor as well as carbon dioxide. Propane, when it burns, even in a catalytic heater produces large amounts of water vapor. So by heating with a non-vented heat source you are just adding to your condensation problem.
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Old 27-07-2011, 21:45   #25
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
stratosailor brings up a good point on heaters that are not ventilated. They produce water vapor as well as carbon dioxide. Propane, when it burns, even in a catalytic heater produces large amounts of water vapor. So by heating with a non-vented heat source you are just adding to your condensation problem.
But there are no problems with an electric heater, right?
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Old 27-07-2011, 21:46   #26
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

Also, how do you go about insulating? (DIY?)
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Old 27-07-2011, 21:55   #27
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

Electric heaters don't produce water vapor. There are other safety issues so Google the brand you think you might want to purchase to find out what those issues may be.

DIY is about the only cost effective way to insulate a boat.

Again, stratosailor was dead on with the closed cell foam insulation. You can get it in rolls and cut to fit. I used to know the brand name of some easy to use foam, but I can't remember. Ah, yes, old age...
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Old 27-07-2011, 22:30   #28
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

I can absolutely not imagine living in a boat in the winter without a wood fired cast iron stove inside. I lived for 6 yrs in an aluminum boat with a Fatsco Tiny Tot, which kept the boat warm and [most importantly] dry. If the boat is dry, you can be comfortable in much cooler temperatures than if it is damp. All liquid fuel stoves put out moisture. All of them. But a wood fire in a cast iron stove will radiate dry heat that will warm your heart as well as you body. The stove needs to be in its own designated spot, bolted into place, with a good chimney going out the roof. I put mine on top of a wood box to store fuel. Yes it is more trouble than turning a switch, and yes it gets messy if you don't maintain it. But. It keeps you toasty warm.
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Old 27-07-2011, 23:11   #29
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

A couple of electric heaters and a small to medium dehumidifier will do the job nicely I suspect. Even in the summer, if you leave for a few hours, close her up and turn on the dehumidifier. It will suck teh moisture out of everything. NOte to self, don't do this o a day that is gonna get over 80 degrees....
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Old 27-07-2011, 23:59   #30
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Re: Living Aboard in the Winter

Well, a man with a username like DeepFrz ought to know a thing or two about staying warm in Winter! Thanks for the affirmation DeepFrz! I don't want to be throwing out false information. This is all just stuff I've had to learn for myself through experience and from searching online for solutions on how to keep warm on a boat. All the information is out there, one just has to look for it.

And as DeepFrz said, propane absolutely does produce water-vapor. I found this out when I bought a Mr. Heater portable propane heater for my boat at the beginning of last Winter. Even bought the connector for a 20# tank and hooked it up. I had to leave the hatch cracked for ventilation so I left the propane tank in the cockpit (never bring one inside the boat, it should be in a propane locker) and ran the hose through the opening and hooked it up. I thought "o boy, now we're going to be nice and toasty". Nope. The opening let in so much cold air and sucked out most of the heat. Since heat rises, this is really a no-brainer. Also, the model I purchased had no fan, so the heat just went straight up and through the hatch. In the meantime I noticed that it not only wasn't helping to keep me warm, but was producing a good amount of moisture. Anyway, all this information is beside the point, because this is a very dangerous thing to do. You shouldn't use any combustible heat source unless it is properly vented to the outside of the boat. I'm only relating my experience to show that it's not a good solution for keeping warm, and please keep in mind the danger of co poisoning or suffocation due to oxygen depletion. By the way, I'm not knocking the Mr. Heater. It's a fine little unit when used for what it's intended for, it's just not designed for use in the cabin of a boat.

MichaelC, I concur. I would love to have the luxury of a woodstove on my boat. I hope to have one someday, perhaps when I have a bigger boat, as there isn't a whole lot of room on a 25 1/2 foot sloop for a woodstove. I suppose it could be done but it would take a lot of rearranging on my boat to do it right and to do it safely. I envy those who have them though, as the thought of all that radiant dry heat, of taking walks along the beach gathering drift wood for the fire, the ambiance, the smell of wood burning, the dryness of the boat....What a way to live!

Capt. lulz, my electric heater had a safety feature whereby if it accidentally turned over, or if it overheated, it would automatically turn off. Keep in mind that little portable heaters do use a surprising amount of electricity! I worked a deal out with my Marina manager to pay him a little extra every month to cover the cost of the electricity.

lookoutnw, that's a great suggestion. I don't know why I didn't think of using a dehumidifier on my boat. I may use one next winter.
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